The web has become a relevant source that people of all age groups use to make informed buying decisions. This fact has even been confirmed by a recent global market research study. Thus, online marketing is integral to a complete and effective marketing plan. But what exactly is online marketing? For a lot of people, online marketing consists of banner campaigns, often being perceived as an annoyance. However, there is more. The following is an overview of the essential online advertising tools, some of which you may find useful additions to your future marketing activities.
- Display Advertising: Display advertising is a term for classical banner campaigns that have found widespread adoption all over the web. Typically, newspaper websites – such as the Swiss newspaper Tages-Anzeiger – feature display advertisements prominently. There are a variety of formats for display marketing including banners, video ads and advertorials (advertisements designed like editorial content).
- Google Display Network: The Google Display Network allows advertisers to place text, banner and video ads on Google-owned sites, partner sites and partnered apps. The participating Google sites are YouTube, Gmail, Blogger and Google Finance. The participating online venues provide advertising space via Google’s AdSense program. As an advertiser on the network, you have precise control over which audiences are targeted on which online venues directly from your AdWords account. Bing and Yahoo! have a similar offering named Yahoo! Bing Network.
- Search Engine Optimization: SEO is the process used to achieve a high ranking on search results pages. Its goal is to achieve high visibility for relevant search queries. The process requires constant refinement since the ranking algorithms used by search engines to calculate the relevance of a website are confidential and frequently changed. Given the confidential nature of the algorithms, tests can only provide evidence for a correlation between the ranking factors and the ranking itself. However, while correlation does not guarantee causation, these tests are the only source of information when researching ranking factors.
- Search Engine Marketing: SEM consists of paid text ads displayed on search engine results pages. These ads target specific keywords found in the user’s search query. As these ads are typically charged per click, they are also called Pay-Per-Click Ads. Google offers this advertising possibility under the brand name AdWords, Bing calls it Bing Ads. Bing Ads have the added benefit of not only being featured on Bing itself, but also inside Yahoo! Search.
- Content Marketing: Content marketing is the practice of providing relevant content for your target group. You can either establish yourself as an expert in your field by providing in-depth knowledge or as an entertainer by providing interesting and varied content. Both offline and online media may be considered for distributing the content: You may choose to publish articles in special interest magazines and journals, or also use blogs, social networks (social media marketing), forums and e-newsletters (e-mail marketing). Ideally, you want to reach your audience with high quality content and make it as easy as possible for them to share it with their peers in order to naturally increase your exposure and recognition.
In the German speaking areas, Facebook, Twitter and Google+ are the most popular social networks. Of those, Facebook and Twitter provide paid advertising possibilities, which in Facebook’s case comprise display ads, called Facebook Ads, and sponsored posts.
- E-Mail Marketing: While newsletters are a proven tool for content marketing, they can also be used as a sales tool. People who sign up for a newsletter are presumed to have a certain interest in your company and in the goods and services you are offering. As a result, the audiences you reach via newsletter may be open to specific offers and promotions.
So, which online marketing instruments are the most effective then?
There is a specific use for every tool. In part 2 we will detail how to effectively use each instrument.